Review by Sean Boelman
Featuring an unforgettable performance by Zoey Deutch (Set it Up), Buffaloed is a new crime comedy set in the unexpected world of debt collecting. Because of the charming and sharp sense of humor lent to the film by the writer and cast, the movie is able to overcome some of its more trope-laden moments to be thoroughly entertaining.
The film follows a street-smart hustler as she turns to the underground world of debt collecting in the hopes of making it big and escaping her hometown of Buffalo, NY, only to get caught up in the darker side of the trade. Ever since movies like The Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short brought about a resurgence of the “crime-doesn’t-pay-or-does-it” genre, filmmakers have been trying to recapture the same energy and humor to varying levels of success. Buffaloed is arguably one of the more successful attempts in recent memory.
Hitting the ground running, the film starts off by introducing the audience to the protagonist and explaining all of the things that are wrong with her hometown of Buffalo, NY. With this, the movie cements itself clearly as both a love letter to the “debt collection capital of America” (an unbelievable but true fact) and an indictment of the American economy and how this country prevents social mobility.
The protagonist of this film, Peg Dahl, is the perfect Byronic hero. Charming and quick-talking, but sometimes a little bit annoying, it’s hard not to love her and all of her antics (even when they start to become somewhat illicit). Admittedly, the supporting cast is relatively archetypal (sometimes to the point of being cartoonish), but this is very much Peg’s show, and the audience will buy into it.
Zoey Deutch is absolutely wonderful in her leading role. Although she has had a few memorable comedic turns in the past (including a scene-stealing appearance in Zombieland: Double Tap), this is arguably her best work yet. She is absolutely perfect at the comedic timing, and her chemistry with the rest of the cast is great. Jai Courtney is also a standout, yet again proving that he is extremely talented when given the right role.
Arguably the most successful thing about this movie is the kineticism of the script. Writer Brian Sacca has given audiences a film that never slows down and yet feels totally cohesive and complete. Although the movie isn’t based on a true story or real people, it is very much set in a real phenomenon, and this is a big part of what makes it so intriguing.
Director Tanya Wexler also brings an energetic visual style to the table. Although some of the techniques used are a bit cliché (freeze frame in the beginning kicking off the tongue-in-cheek narration), other portions of the film are strikingly effective. The use of montages, for example, is very impressive, building the visual rhythm of the movie.
Buffaloed is a very entertaining and well-made entry into a genre that is typically very compelling. Although it may not reinvent the wheel, director Tanya Wexler takes these tropes and gives viewers a very watchable caper.
Buffaloed is now in theaters and on VOD.